Am I not a Man and a Brother?

Commemorative bowl with abolitionist motifs, Waterford Wedgwood. Staffordshire, England, 2007, green and black Jasperware.
Private collection

Josiah Wedgwood was not only a driving figure in the industrialization of English ceramics production. He was also an active and early member of the newly founded Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. To strengthen the anti-slavery movement, in 1787 he had his most talented modeler, William Hackwood, design a medallion showing a kneeling black man in chains on a white background. The inscription “Am I Not a Man and a Brother” can be read on the cameo’s edge. Wedgwood had this medallion produced and distributed at his own expense. The ladies of high society wore it as brooch, hatpin or pendant, whereas the gentlemen used it to decorate their snuffboxes.